I was really surprised by the responses of complete shock at the plot twist from the last chapter. I guess since I always had that planned it wasn't a surprise to me, but I forgot it would probably be a surprise for everyone else. It was funny reading the reviews. May we all take a moment of silence for AvengerNerd3 who exploded with shock. :)
Okay, so now I am trying an entire chapter from Loki's POV. I almost feel like it turned out better than most of the other chapters in this story. It's certainly longer, and much darker, so those of you who are squeamish, I am very sorry. It's not that awful, but you have been warned. This story is rated T for a reason.
On a side note, I can honestly say that this chapter marks the first time I have ever used the word "repugnance" in a sentence. Ever. It was a proud moment.
Disclaimer – I only own original characters, the rest belongs to Marvel.
Chapter 14 – Winter's Chill
The prison was dark and cold. Lucky for him the cold had no effect. One of the few perks to being a Jotun he suspected.
Loki drew himself farther into the darkest corner of his cell, the chains on his hands creating an eerie noise that echoed through the prison. He scoffed at his meager conditions. He was a prince of Asgard after all – he had been their king! It only proved to him that those who claimed to be his family were only pretending to care all along. That they would knowingly place him in such a pathetic state was offensive. However, it was to be expected from those who thought themselves above him. The chains around his wrists possessed magic prevented him from using any tricks of his own to escape or to even make his conditions a bit more comfortable. At least they had returned some of his dignity by removing that silly muzzle.
The sound of heavy footsteps made their way down to where Loki sat. Excellent, he thought. Another gawker. Is it too much to ask for a little privacy?
"Brother," said Thor, standing tall over Loki. His eyes were blank and emotionless.
"It would do you well to remember that I am not your brother, Odinson."
"Listen well, Brother. Your trial is scheduled for tomorrow morning. I would not expect Father to be very lenient with your sentence."
"That cannot be the only thing that would cause you to come down here, Thor. Have you come to marvel at my quarters? Welcome to Asgard's finest! Luxuries beyond your wildest dreams! Please, make yourself comfortable upon the immaculate stone floor."
"What drove you to do this?"
Loki could hear the pain in Thor's voice, but he hardly cared. "Is it not obvious? Would you not have done the same thing in my position?"
"I would rather have died than betray my people! You would carelessly throw Asgard into war with Jotunheim and then turn around and murder the innocent who reside in Midgard? Are you daft, Brother?"
Loki could not help but laugh. "This says the man who only a short while ago marched into Jotunheim seeking to quench his thirst for war. Do not chide me with hypocrisy."
"I have changed, Brother."
"Oh, yes. I forgot you have a friend in Midgard," Loki replied. "My apologies, Thor."
Thor slammed his hands into the metal bars of Loki's cell, causing them to shake violently.
"And people think I need to rein in my anger," said Loki with a smirk.
Thor relaxed against the bars. "Loki, nobody cast you out. You let go on your own impulses. Mother cried for weeks. You cannot tell me that we are not your family, and it insults me that you do not consider me your brother. You are home. We can heal now."
Loki stood to face Thor, which proved slightly difficult with the chains that bound his hands. "Do not mock me, Thor. You and I both know nothing will ever be the same. Considering you were banished for entering Jotunheim I doubt my punishment from Odin will be any less severe, although, he can hardly banish me after what happened in Midgard. It will be interesting to find out what the Allfather has planned."
"This is no laughing matter, Brother! You know what Father is capable of doing even to you! Your magic will not be able to save you from his wrath. He is very angry with you. You have besmirched the name of Odin with your folly!"
"Thor, who taught you the meaning of the word 'besmirched?' I highly doubt you came up with that one on your own."
"Have you any idea what your actions have done to Kiera?"
Loki stopped for a moment. He had almost forgotten her. Kiera, the girl who had made him believe she cared. The girl who had been taken in and loved by the family that had cast him aside. She had even pretended not to notice that he was a creature of utmost repugnance. What did he care how she felt about what had transpired? None of this concerned her.
"And why should I burden myself with the feelings of a servant girl?"
Thor hung his head and backed away from Loki's cell. "I had hoped that something would change in you, Brother. You must believe that there are those of us who do truly care for you. I hope that one day you will come to realize that."
Thor's footsteps faded as he left the prison. Loki leaned up against the bars that had separated himself from Thor. Now that his brother was gone, Loki was suddenly struck with a pang of loneliness. He shook this feeling away, retreating once again into the darkest corner of his cell to await his punishment.
What more can they do to me?
Loki was rudely awakened at dawn for the trial. His neck was sore from the odd angle at which it had been resting against the stone walls of his cell as he slept. The guilt he had felt the night before had dissipated in favor of anger. A small army of guards stood outside his cell. Loki almost laughed at the sight – did they not think he would behave himself? Two entered and hauled him unceremoniously to his feet by the elbows. He shook them off, glaring as if to mentally signal to the guards what would happen to them if they tried to touch him again.
They marched together out of the prison and back into the palace of Asgard. The light stung Loki's eyes after being trapped in the dull prison. He ignored the stares of the people they passed who gawked and whispered as he walked by, flanked by guards. The closer they got to their destination the more the crowd grew. Hisses and angry outbursts flew at Loki from all angles. He only smirked in response, letting the insults bounce off of him.
Finally, they reached Odin's throne. He sat in the center, with Thor standing at his right and Frigga on his left. Odin and Thor looked stoic. Frigga however looked as if she were struggling to hold back tears. Loki quickly looked away from her, pretending he was not affected by the pain in her eyes.
The guards tried to force Loki into a kneeling position, but he shrugged them off. He was still Asgardian royalty, and would not be treated like a misbehaving child forced into submission. He stood proudly, chin in the air as if daring anyone to tell him what to do. Thor stared at him, as if trying to suggest that Loki should show remorse before the Allfather, but Loki would have none of it.
Odin stood and pounded his scepter into the ground. The sound echoed throughout the hall, silencing all who cried out in anger against Loki. The room fell into an eerie silence. It was unnerving, but Loki refused to let it affect him.
The room was silent for some time before Odin found his words. "Loki," he said, leaving off the title that usually followed. Loki was amused that Odin did not know whether to call him Odinson or Laufeyson. "You are charged with multiple crimes against the throne of Asgard. You have attempted genocide against Jotunheim, lied to and attempted to kill your own brother, manipulated innocent people to do your bidding, and brought the Chitauri down on Midgard whose inhabitants had done nothing to wrong you. Because of your selfish and deplorable actions, Asgard is now in a state of war with Jotunheim and the people of Midgard fear and loathe us. Normally, for crimes such as this, one would be banished from Asgard. However, because your actions have caused so much atrocity across the Nine Realms, I have determined that you shall be kept here where we may keep a close watch on you to ensure that this does not occur again."
Loki stood silently, smirking as Odin confirmed his suspicions. He would stay in Asgard, which he wholeheartedly preferred. Perhaps this punishment would not be so horrible after all.
"However," Odin continued, "such actions deserve a proper punishment. Your lies and deceit are your greatest weapons, followed by your sorcery. You will remain in prison where you cannot hope to use magic to escape and wreak havoc on more innocent people. In addition, I declare that your lying tongue be silenced."
And how are you planning on doing that? Loki thought, amused. Suddenly, strong hands grasped him under the arms and began dragging him forward. Loki began to panic, not knowing what was happening. He struggled fruitlessly against the guards, but could not escape their hold. They forced him onto the floor on his back and held him there, not allowing him to move. Loki was suddenly aware of Thor amid the chaos. He knelt down over Loki's head, grasping the sides of his face firmly between his two massive hands. Loki looked up into Thor's eyes, but Thor refused to look back, instead finding a fixed point in another part of the hall.
Another figure wormed his way in next to Loki and knelt down beside him. At once, Loki realized what was coming. His eyes opened wide in horror as he beheld a sharp, gleaming needle and thread he knew to be unbreakable. He thrashed wildly, trying desperately to escape, using all of his willpower to magic his way out, but his magic would not find him. The effects of the chains prevented him from using any type of sorcery. Desperately, he looked back up at Thor.
"Thor, brother, please!" he whispered. "You cannot let them do this!"
Thor did not look back, but Loki could see the tears in his brother's eyes. "Thor, look at me, you would not let them do this to me, I am your brother!" The needle drew nearer to his lips. "Thor, please, please!"
Thor's hands grasped Loki's face tighter, forcing his jaw closed. Loki's eyes darted back and forth between Thor and the needle which threatened to pierce his flesh at any moment. Finally, he closed his eyes in anticipation for the pain he knew was coming.
The needle tore roughly through his bottom lip and was yanked hard through the top, sealing the right side of his mouth together. Muffled anguish was the only noise Loki could muster. Tears began to stream down his face as the man with the needle continued to sew, not bothering to be careful. Loki tried to scream, but it only caused the thread to pull against his lips in angry protest. Blood filled his mouth and poured down his chin, mixing with the tears. Finally, an eternity later, the job was done. Loki was forced to his feet and faced toward the masses which had come to witness the trial.
Loki's ears rang with the laughter of thousands. He refused to open his eyes to behold the sight of the whole of Asgard's amusement at his humiliation. The guards led him out of the hall, past the jeering throng, stumbling as he walked. The crowd yelled insults at him – all but one. Standing toward the back was a girl with long blonde hair and golden eyes, sobbing silently.
Days passed, maybe weeks. He couldn't tell anymore. An all-consuming despair filled Loki even more deeply than the anger that had once been all he felt. He was completely alone in his cell beneath the prison, unable to speak, unable to escape, and unable to see a way out. What he had done was deplorable, and yet, Loki had no regrets. This was his destiny. It was what he was always meant to do. He was born an enemy of Asgard, and now he was fulfilling his fate. He would have to be satisfied with his new life as a permanent outcast, wallowing in a dank prison cell forever.
Loki did not even look up when he heard footsteps coming toward his cell. It was probably just someone delivering a meal, or a random Asgardian citizen coming to gawk at him like a circus animal. The worst part was not being able to tell them to go away. It was humiliating.
Out of the corner of his eye, Loki caught a glimpse of yellow. A quick glance over his shoulder caused his stomach to clench in dread. It was Kiera. Kiera had come to see him. Kiera with her radiant blonde hair and intoxicating eyes. A sudden wave of guilt swept over him, something he had not felt in a long time. When no one else was there to listen she had been there. She had been his first real friend other than his brother, and he had been so cruel to her in return.
But the fact remained that she could not understand his suffering. She could never understand. She had betrayed him when he had most needed her, laughing at his curse. She had been accepted into Asgardian society when he had been cast out and turned into a monster by his own people. He banished the guilt and tried to replace it with loathing.
He heard her footsteps stop right in front of his cell. He was in shadow, hidden from view, but he could see her from his peripherals. She looked strangely numb. She took a deep breath and began to speak.
"I killed my parents," she said slowly, without any introduction to ease the harshness of her words. "I remember it – I was two years old. I was supposed to be asleep. The fire started and somehow I knew it belonged to me. I heard them screaming. They were trying to save me. They couldn't get to me and I listened to them die. I couldn't control it, but it was still my fault."
Loki was startled. She had never told him this. Yet he did not move, or even pretend to acknowledge she was speaking. Pride. Still she continued.
"After that, I was passed around from family to family for almost fourteen years. Once they discovered my gift they shuffled me along to the next family. Eighteen. Eighteen families. Do you know what it's like to be rejected by eighteen families? To have eighteen families who are supposed to love you and care for you throw you out without a word of explanation? Without even bothering to try to sound sorry? Do you know what it's like to live with the guilt of killing your own parents and to not be able to explain to anybody why or how it happened because they won't believe you? Do you know what it's like to have twelve-hundred students whisper behind your back and make you a social outcast with no friends because of something you can't control?"
Her voice broke then. Guilt was building steadily as Loki realized how little he actually knew about Kiera's life and how horrible it had been. He stared at his boots trying to block the sound of her voice. She was crying now. It was the most terrible sound.
"And then the one place where I was finally accepted and even loved, I lost my best friend, believing him to be dead, and on top of all that, as it turns out, I'm actually a Fire Demon. Not even a Fire Demon, more like a fraction of a Fire Demon. I don't belong in Midgard, I don't belong in Asgard, and I don't belong in Muspelheim. Basically, I don't belong anywhere. I'm some freak of nature that can't do anything special except randomly set things on fire. I'm the spawn of the enemy of the people who took me in and who I thought cared for me. And the best part of it all was that just like you I was only brought here as a bargaining chip against Muspelheim in the event that Asgard went to war against them. So all of these people who claimed to love me were only pretending under the command of Odin."
She stopped to wipe the tears from her eyes.
"So, contrary to what you believe, yes. I do know what it's like. I know what all of it's like. And it sucks. But you can't blame the universe for your problems. You can't let them turn you into a monster. You always have a choice."
The guilt was overwhelming now. Unbearable.
"I love you," Kiera said, swallowing her tears. "I started loving you before the night we kissed, before you knew you were a Jotun. I still loved you when you were king of Asgard and treated everyone like crap. I missed you terribly when I believed you were dead. I still love you, Loki. And I still have hope for you."
He could not help it. Tears stung his eyes and the guilt would not subside. She turned and began to walk away. Loki wanted so badly to say something, anything that would be of comfort. He tried to call out to her without thinking but all that came out was a sort of strangled moan and he winced in pain. She stopped and turned once more to look at him, and their gazes met for one brief instant. She slowly walked back toward his cell. Suddenly, Loki noticed that her hands were burning. The flames curled into a small ball of fire which she held in her hand. She reached in carefully through the bars of his cell and the flames left her hand, landing gently beside him. She gave him one last look before she left the prison, the sight of her sorrowful eyes burning in his mind.
Loki brought his chained hands up to his mouth. When he pulled his fingers away, there was fresh blood. He slammed his fists into the stone wall in frustration. Finally, not caring about the pain it would undoubtedly cause, he gripped the unbreakable stitches with a clenched fist. Before he could change his mind, he pulled with all his might, tearing the thread out of his lips violently. He let out a roar of immense agony and fell forward onto his knees. Opening his eyes, he saw a pool of blood forming on the stone floor, flowing through the cracks as if winding through a maze. The pain was almost unbearable, but it masked the anguish caused by the look on Kiera's face, for which he was grateful.
Could it be true that both Thor and Kiera were right? What if after all this time there were still people who cared about him even after he had done so much to burn the bridges between himself and those around him? What if love was truly unconditional?
Loki ripped a strip of fabric from his shirt and tied it tightly around his mouth to stop the bleeding, which proved a struggle due to the cumbersome chains. His body would repair itself soon enough, but he could not stand the feeling of the blood gushing from where the needle had torn into his flesh. It was only a matter of time before he would be completely healed and able to speak once more. Loki curled back into the corner, his gaze falling upon the small flame Kiera had left for him. Its warmth filled the whole cell and its light danced serenely against the cold, overpowering everything else.
2013 EDIT: I liked this chapter before, but I like it so much better now. Yes, it's slightly cheesy, but sometimes cheesy is nice. I like cheese.